Wasserman leaving LAT?

L.A. Observed reported back in September that the Times had promoted Tim Rutten to the new post of Associate Editor of Features and gave him authority over the Sunday Book Review section. Since then, Book Review editor Steve Wasserman has reportedly complained fairly openly that he no longer gets to decide unilaterally which books will be reviewed or who will review them. Today at the Publishers Weekly website (sub req'd.), Stephen Zeitchik says:

Buzz is getting louder that the head of the book review at the West Coast's biggest paper could be getting ready for a departure, with sources reporting that over the last few weeks he's had conversations with East Coast editors about other jobs.

Wasserman came to the LAT eight years ago after a career at Times Books and NY publishing, bringing a flash of intellectualism to the paper. But he has also reportedly had a number of run-ins with supervisors who saw the section he ran as being overly highbrow. With the recent announcement that Wasserman would report to longtime Times-er Tim Rutten, sources describe conditions which could precipitate a departure. "If this did happen, I think a lot of people wouldn't be surprised. Some might even ask why it didn't happen sooner," said one literary insider.

Wasserman tells PW there's nothing to it and Rutten is gracious, saying the shift last fall had nothing to do with Wasserman: "As far as I know Steve has no plans to leave the Los Angeles Times, and the Los Angeles Times's plans coincide with his." Gossip on the possible departure has sparked some pointed blog commentary (of a wishful nature) at The Elegant Variation and Tod Goldberg.

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